A Pinhole for your DSLR
Please read the article on pinhole cameras if you have not already done so, even if you think you know all there is to know about pinhole cameras.
You may also like to look at the 5 minute project Pringle tube pinhole camera.
To be able to make pinhole images, we just need to turn the camera to manual, so we can control the Shutter Speed, and so that the camera does not object to having a lens missing to meter with.
We can then remove the lens and replace it with something that blocks the light from entering and allows a pinhole to be positioned. The most common way of doing this is to use a camera body cap, drill a hole in it and put on the front, over the hole, something very thin that can have a pinhole in. A flattened out section of a thin aluminium can such as those used to provide drinks, is often used.
For the experiments here, instead of the body cap I have used a set of tubes, that are usually used for Macro Photography. This has a telephoto affect compared to the body cap, which gives the widest angle that you can get.
Tubes, shown above, have no lens/glass in them, they are just spacers. They normally come in sets allowing you, from a set of 3, to have 7 combinations of thickness. You could equally use any other attachments you happen to have such as an adaptor for a scope or microscope.
What to do
The piece of card with
foil under, showing the pin or needle prick in the centre of
Camera with no lens, but a
pinhole in foil, on card over a tube. Exposures can be
Improving the Image
It does not help that we also included pictures taken on a D200 with a Nikon lens on this page showing the parts and D300 set up, if you had just pinhole images alone, they would not look quite as un-sharp, they are about the same level of sharpness as you get from a cheap camera with a plastic lens, that many are quite happy to use.
We could however improve on these, with time and more experimentation, but here we have stopped at what you can achieve very quickly.
In theory the smaller the Aperture or f stop the clearer your image should be up to a degree, f stops are the hole size divided by the distance from the pinhole to the focal plane of the camera. With Pinhole Photography measuring the distance is easy, measuring the hole isn't. But generally images are improved by having a smaller pinhole. Images using the tubes should be better than those that can be produced with a body cap alone, although the body cap could be used instead of the card on the tubes as it has the same function.
The other factor is the thickness of the material you have the pinhole in, as the walls of this cause a varying of the light towards the edge of the images. This is why we have used the foil instead of just putting a pin prick in the black card. Some people prefer a piece of aluminium can and sandpaper this down so that its very thin. We didn't here as we wanted to produce an experiment that anyone could do very easily.
The subject needs to be well lit, preferably with the light from behind the camera position.
You maybe able to adjust some settings on the camera, for example on recent Nikon cameras you can use the picture control, and increase contrast, sharpness and saturation a little. You will also find the colours are better if you set the white balance for the correct lighting conditions i.e. sunny, shade etc.
Try a number of versions of the above, you will find every pin prick that you do differs in size, and therefore the exposure and image quality also varies. Try to touch lightly so that only the tip touches and the hole is the tip rather than the shaft size.
If you use a complete piece of silver foil instead of the card, you will find there is too much bounced or reflected light and the image is damaged.
Its tempting to turn the ISO up high to cut the exposure times but this creates noise even at ISO values that normally in your photography does not show noise.
Many of the experiments I do are out of a window and like all window shots the image quality is reduced.
You can machine a brass or other shim far thinner and make up a slide for this, complete with black blocking pieces, but here I have tried to keep the instructions simple enough that just about anyone can do it with very little in the form of special equipment.
Commercially produced pinholes
There are a number of people producing
pinholes that you can use with your camera, we have some contacts and
details of what they offer at the end of
- further information.
We also have as an example a gallery of images that we have taken using
ones of these adaptors, see
See Also: Two further articles expand the coverage here
using the same techniques:- In addition we have the following articles that may also be of interest:-
See Also: Two further articles expand the coverage here using the same techniques:-
In addition we have the following articles that may also be of interest:-